The 160th anniversary of one of northwest Florida’s best known landmarks was marked with a special ceremony on Jan 11 at the US Naval Station at Pensacola.
The Pensacola Lighthouse, which is accessible through the Naval Station on Pensacola Bay, and the ceremony attended by nearly 100 guests, also marked the completion of a four-year multi-million dollar restoration of the lighthouse and its museum.
Jon Hill, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum executive director, said the current lighthouse is the second in Pensacola, the first being established in 1824.
“That lighthouse was deemed insufficient, too short and the light was not bright enough by sea captains working in the area,” said Mr Hill.
“Congress appropriated funds for the current lighthouse with construction beginning in 1856 and completed two years later. The lighthouse’s Fresnel lens was lit for the first time on Jan 1, 1859.”
The restoration work, during the four years, included the repair of 300ft of linear cracks on the exterior, replacement of 110 of its 177 stairs, restoration of the ironwork at the top, restoration of the Fresnel lens and the complete restoration of all the associated buildings.
Mr Hill said there was a significant involvement by the community in the restoration work.
“None of this would have been possible without the Ladies of Impact, and the more than 130,000 visitors we have annually and they all have a vested interest in its continued success and accessibility,” he continued.
”All the work was completed without the benefit of federal dollars. It was completed entirely through earned income, donations and grants from organisations such as the Pensacola Bay Area Impact 100 Group, the Florida Lighthouse Association and the Florida Department of Historic Resources.”
The guest speaker was Captain Christopher Martin, the Naval Air Station’s commanding officer, who told the guests: “Although the Lighthouse resides in an area of Pensacola Bay occupied by the US Coast Guard, the rich tradition the Pensacola community shares with the US Armed Forces makes the iconic lighthouse part of the history of a base which has trained naval aviators for a century.